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NYC Out of the ashes Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 10:36 GMT
A survivor's story
The attacks on the Twin Towers
Eric Levine was in Tower Two when the planes stuck
Peter Gould

At 8.30am on 11 September, Eric Levine was enjoying a coffee break on the 64th floor of the World Trade Center. The next few hours of his life were to be etched into his memory forever.

For most of us, the thought of being inside the World Trade Center when the planes struck is unimaginable.

For Eric Levine, the dreadful reality is burned into his memory.

On September 11, he was on the 64th floor of Tower two, finishing a cup of coffee and a Danish pastry.

A 32-year-old employee of stockbrokers Morgan Stanley, he was beginning what he thought would be just another day at the office.

This is his story:

"I heard the explosion and saw smoke and debris coming from Tower one when the first plane hit.


I could feel the building starting to sink into the ground. The stairs began to separate, and steam began coming out of the walls.

"It was sheer luck I got out. The floor wardens had the common sense to evacuate the office, and I was one of the last people off the floor.

"There was no real sense of an emergency at first.

"Some people thought it was a drill, and treated it as a joke. They thought they were going to get the day off.

"A bad ride on Disneyworld"

"It was 11 minutes later, and I had gone down about 7 or 8 flights of stairs, when the second plane hit our building.

"I could hear an explosion and people started flying everywhere. It was like a bad ride on Disneyworld.

"A woman fell against me and I went down a flight of stairs. I could hear more explosions and screaming.

"I could feel the building starting to sink into the ground. The stairs began to separate, and steam began coming out of the walls.

"It was terrifying. I could feel the building being pushed down and I didn't think we were going to get out.

Wreckage of the World Trade Center
Eric Levine will always remember 11 September
"We started praying. There was a wave of panic and lots of people were hurt as the younger people ploughed over the older ones.

"By this time we were still around the 44th floor. You could already smell the jet fuel from the plane that hit the other building. After the second plane hit it was unbearable.

"The stairwell was thick with smoke. By the time I got down to the 20th floor I was having an asthma attack. A woman stopped to help me.

"Like a nuclear war"

"In all, it took an hour to get down two thousand stairs. When we got to the bottom, the police grabbed us and pushed us out.

"There were bodies everywhere. People were jumping out of the towers and you could see them hitting the ground. I saw one person on fire.

"It looked like a nuclear war. It was black and you couldn't see a thing, and people were running everywhere.

"People were yelling at us to evacuate the area. I looked up at the two towers, and saw smoke and flames shooting out.


I had a dream that Osama Bin Laden had put together a list of survivors and sent people out to assassinate us

"I could still see people jumping out. I could still see part of a plane sticking out of our building. There was part of a wing or engine in the road.

"I took off. I had about five minutes to get clear before the towers fell. If I hadn't got away when I did, I would probably have been killed.

"I have been working from home because I suffered injuries to my lungs, and I have also had a leg problem.

"My company, Morgan Stanley, is now spread out in offices across Manhattan, and I will probably be going back at the end of the month.

"I am not too thrilled about it. I have a lot of anxiety, and have had lots of panic attacks and sleepless nights.

"I even had a dream that Osama Bin Laden had put together a list of survivors and had sent people out to assassinate us.

"I have had a long period of feeling guilty. A lot of people I know did not get out, so I have a lot of mixed emotions."

Links to more NYC Out of the ashes stories are at the foot of the page.


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